Being an Introverted Author & Navigating the Social Media Space.
I have a confession. There is something I have been struggling with for a while. Years in fact. Its something I have tried, unsuccessfully, to change about myself. Something in my intrinsic makeup that I’ve tried to modify in order to make other people feel happy and comfortable. My confession is this.
I am an introvert.
There. I’ve said it.
I am the kind of person who loves to hang out on their own, who is happy to go days without seeing another human and avoids phone calls like the plague. I’m not fond of sharing my life with everyone, my private life is my private life and what opinions I have on social or political matters I keep to myself. My life is as low key as I can possibly make it, and that’s the way I like it.
I have always been like this. I didn’t always behave in an introverted way. I spent a good portion of my life, mainly my 20’s and 30’s partying like crazy. Drinking, smoking, karaoke, dancing and getting to bed at ridiculous hours… Sometimes fun while it was happening, but a lot of the time I was anxiety ridden, and I always regretted these behaviours for days after. The angst was real.
Its only in recent months, mostly in part to experiencing some excruciating low swings in my mental health, (which I may address in my next blog), that I have realised that I don’t have to be like that for anyone. I realised I could actually choose and construct my life the way I wanted it. The way I had always craved it to be. Quiet. Calm. Serene.
And so, I did. And I have never felt more content.
However, this complete backflip on my former life is proving a challenge. You see, the thing I love doing most in the world, writing, is fine as a pastime on its own, but if I actually want to sell some books I have to wade back through the horrors of the faux introverted life I had lived before and do something that terrifies the hell out of me.
I have to… Put Myself Out There.
I have to make myself visible in an online space, amongst people I don’t know and try to make an impression in a way that I just don’t know how to. I will be honest, I have found it much easier to make friends on social media, I find it easier to converse in this space, and to figure out the cool people who are going to ‘get’ my weird little brain and all its foibles. I feel comfortable being able to observe without being observed if I wish (every introverts dream), and I love having the opportunity to be able to participate in conversations I would not otherwise have access to. I have met some funny, kind, and downright brilliant humans in the online space and I am incredibly grateful for being able to communicate in that way.
My only problem is this.
I don’t know how to start those conversations. I don’t know how to be interesting. Although I sometimes feel like I have something to add to a discussion, I’m not sure I have something significant enough, or witty enough to say.
A basic requirement for an Author, whether you are Self-Published or Traditionally published, is that you have a positive social media presence. Its how we sell books, by selling ourselves. Its very much like the Hunger Games in some respects in that you need to get people to like you in order to have some success. My trouble with this, and as is the case for many introverted people (and a lot of writers are introverted), is that we don’t like talking about ourselves. Being shy is a huge component of some types of introversion and its safe to say that I am one of the shy ones. It takes a long time for me to trust people, to share those things about me that make me interesting. I do have a fun side, I definitely have a compassionate side, and I have personal values and opinions and views on many things that might be considered a valid contribution to a wider conversation. Those sides of me are reserved for the people closest to me though. I do not share them freely.
On the marketing side of things, I am quite decent with the graphic design, I’m a good writer, I can make a nice image to showcase my product. But people get sick of seeing those. They want to see more of the person behind the work. And that’s the problem. I have several thousands of followers across social media and I only know a handful of them personally. I would love to be able to have a conversation with everyone, but I need to do it in a way that feels safe for me. I think as an introvert, my seemingly very small voice can reach a LOT of followers and that is extremely exciting, but it’s also terrifying.
So I have a question, for all of the folks out there reading this. A couple in fact. How do we navigate social platforms and create a space where the books are the product, instead of the authors? And if the two are indistinguishable, is it fair to exclude authors from a range of opportunities simply because they are unprepared to divulge personal experiences online?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.